Tagged: Ben

Who’s Still Left Without A Team?

With Manny Ramirez and Orlando Cabrera officially signed, I take a look at what’s availible in the Unsigned Players Dept.

Top Remaining Free Agents

1.       Ben Sheets

2.       Ivan Rodriguez

3.       Ray Durham

4.       Jim Edmonds

5.       Paul Byrd

6.       Mark Grudzielanek

7.       Joe Beimel

8.       Pedro Martinez

9.       Will Ohman

10.   Kenny Rogers

11.   Moises Alou

12.   Frank Thomas

13.   Emil Brown

14.   Chad Cordero

15.   Curt Schilling

16.   Richie Sexson

17.   Rudy Seanez

18.   Luis Gonzalez

19.   Keith Foulke

20.   Sidney Ponson

21.   Mark Mulder

22.   Julian Tavarez

23.   Damion Easily

24.   Dave Roberts

25.   Ben Brousard

 

Ben Sheets gets the top spot only because of his dominant 2008 season and I don’t think anyone else on this list deserves it.  A torn flexor in his elbow will keep him out of action until at least July.  If he signs on with a team before the June draft then the Brewers will receive a compensation pick so don’t expect any offers until then…Ivan Rodriguez will use the World Baseball Classic to showcase all he has left.  The Mets, Astros and possibly Marlins have shown interest…There are reports that Moises Alou and Kenny Rogers may have unofficially retired…Paul Byrd will take at least early 2008 off to spend time with his family, but could get back into action by the All-Star break…Look for Mark Grudzielanek to get a look at third base in the Bronx should A-Rod need surgery…Pedro Martinez‘ velocity and stamina are both way down and  he’s had trouble finding work for this season.  The Cardinals may bring him on and try him in the closer’s role…Former All-Stars Chad Cordero and Curt Schilling are off injuries costing them both the 2008 seasons but are still trying to find work.

More A-Rod News From Tampa


alex-rodriguez-stretching.jpgAlex Rodriguez has a torn labrum and a cyst on his right hip.  It may require surgery and would effectively knock him out of the World Baseball Classic and the Yankees line-up until May or possibly as late as the All-Star break.  The ladder would cost New York 88 games without its premier slugger.  With things as close as they are in the AL East, they’d take a step back behind the Rays and Red Sox. 

Jayson Stark speculated on Sportscenter earlier that they could take a look at Bobby Crosby or Mark Teahan.  If the injury worsens over the season then players like Adrian Beltre or Garrett Atkins could get some looks as well, but nothing is close.

You could have a worse back-up than Cody Ransom, but that’s exactly what he is, a backup.  He’s a 33-year old utility player with all of 183 at-bats (.251/.348/.432) in the majors since 2001 while also spending time with the Giants and Astros.

A report was just released that he will have his hip drained and that he is going to try to play through it and rejoin the team.  He is still out of the WBC.  Hopefully for him and the Yankees he can get back right away and continue to prove that he can produce while playing clean to try to clean up his image before it is forever tarnished, though it may be too late.

Japan Takes WBC Opener 4-0 Over China

         


t1_ichiro.jpgYour boy’s getting big now, my Manny post was up on the front page.

 

How many of you actually woke up at 4:30 EST to watch the World Baseball Classic opener like me?  Well I’m a little nuts and don’t sleep but in case you missed it, Japan opened up with a 4-0 win over China.  They were led by Yu Darvish pitching four shutout innings before being removed because of a 70-pitch limit for first round games as six Japanese pitchers tossed a shutout.  Shuichi Murata had the big bang with a two-run blast in the third inning.  Ichiro Suzuki was 0-5 at the plate though he did have a nice running grab up against the wall.  Despite a quiet day offensively,   Japan overall looked pretty good as they try to defend their title

As for China I am not impressed at all.  One in every six people on this Earth, 1.3 billion, live in China.  Yet despite being successful in athletics, baseball has never quite caught on and they have never produced an MLB player.  They don’t hit for much power and their ace tops out at 83.  I’ve faced kids that throw harder and I play at a Division 3 high school in Massachusetts.  The only thing that seemed moderately impressive was their speed down the baseline but that won’t be winning any ballgames.  I expect them to be two and done.

WBC Power Rankings


2009-world-baseball-classic-logo.jpgAfter taking a few weeks off to write my research paper, I’m back with a look at the World Baseball Classic.  Lets get into it:

 

 

1. United States- Surprisingly their team doesn’t have the most stars in the tournament, but depth and an improved mindset is what should lead Team USA to its first WBC title.

2. Dominican Republic- You know your offense is good when it’s the best in the tournament while missing Albert Pujols, Alfonso Soriano, Miguel Tejada and Vladimer Guerrero.

3. Venezuela- Felix Hernandez will take the ace role from injured pitcher Johan Santana.  Miguel Cabrera, Bobby Abreu, and Magglio Ordonez anchor the offense.

4. Japan- The defending champs will be back with a target on their shoulders.  Player you’ve never heard of to watch out for: starting pitcher Yu Darvish.  Also note that their pitchers are in mid-season form, a huge advantage.

5. Cuba- Electrifying shortstop Yulieski Gourriel and the Cuban national team aim to avenge their 10-6 loss in the championship.

6. Korea- Shin-Soo Choo is the lone major leaguer on a team that advanced to the semifinals in 2006.

7. Mexico- A team with plenty of major league experience that knocked Team USA out of the last Classic.

8. Puerto Rico- Carlos Beltran leads a team of aging stars that would have been title contenders a decade ago.

9. Canada- Eric Bedard was their only legitimate pitcher.  They just won’t have enough arms despite an offense with Justin Morneau, Russell Martin and Jason Bay.

10. Panama- Carlos Lee and Manny Corpas outline a roster built with 15 minor leaguers.

11. Italy- Mike Piazza steps down from catcher to hitting coach.

12. Netherlands- Even Andruw Jones can’t help this team… then again he can barely help his regular teams.

13. Chinese Taipei- Chein-Ming Wang opted not to play, but there still is some unknown talent hidden on the Taiwan roster.

14. Australia- Little to be excited about for the team down under.

15. China- One Billion people and 100 olympic medals but baseball has still yet to catch on.

16. South Africa- Have never produced a MLB player.

 

 

Predictions

First Round

Pool A

  1. Japan
  2. Korea
  3. Chinese Taipei
  4. China

Pool B

  1. Cuba
  2. Mexico
  3. Australia
  4. South Africa

Pool C

  1. United States
  2. Venezuela
  3. Canada
  4. Italy

Pool D

  1. Dominican Republic
  2. Puerto Rico
  3. Panama
  4. Netherlands

 

Round 2

Pool A

  1. Japan
  2. Cuba
  3. Mexico
  4. Korea

Pool B

  1. United States
  2. Venezuela
  3. Dominican Republic
  4. Puerto Rico

 

Semifinals

  1. United States over Japan
  2. Venezuela over Cuba

 

Finals

  1. United States over Venezuela

 

Bronze Medal Game

  1. Japan Over Cuba

A-Rod Does The Right Thing


 Alex Rodriguez learned from the mistakes of Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi, and Roger Clemens and came clean right away. 

He could have followed suit and denied it right into his social grave.  He could have let the media rip his heart out and diminish his sense of pride to the point where he barely left his house like Mark McGwire has become.  He could have.  But that isn’t exactly an ideal option for someone entering the prime of their career while in the second year of a record setting ten-year 275 million dollar contract.

Andy Pettitte and Gary Sheffield went through this before him and he saw what being truthful can do.  He has now kept the hearts of his loyal fans and saved himself from being tabloided more than Paris Hilton, though he probably already is anyway.

All in all the good news is we hopefully will not have to listen to nearly as much of this because of his honesty.  I think that even more former players should do the same and come clean before they exposed because chances are they will be and it will look a lot better if they do this on their own now before they become scapegoats for an entire generation.

 
arod2.jpg

Steroid Use Not A Big Deal

With yesterday’s news of A-Rod’s positive steroid test, we have all just signed a 14-year contract extension to listen to steroid news through the remainder of the nine years left on his reco
arod.jpgrd contract and then his five years before he becomes hall of fame eligible.  It seems as though this story will never go away. 

People, both media and fans alike, need to just get over it.  Players don’t take steroids just to find an easy way to fame and stardom.  They take steroids because they are part of the group of major leaguers who are always looking for an edge over the competition because they are among the fiercest competitors in the world. 

Sure there are plenty of legal issues and health concerns that kept the majority of players away from using them.  These are completely normal and more than acceptable reasons to never take steroids under any circumstances.

With that said take a step back now and keep an open mind.  Picture yourself as an elite athlete.  You have a readily available option to significantly better yourself as a baseball player.  Baseball is a game of inches and that extra power and speed can go a long way.  You have the luxuries of money and doctors to help ensure that you are taking only the safest and best type of drugs and that they are being properly used.

Do you really think you as a fan could honestly say that if you were in their situation you wouldn’t do it yourself?  There were no penalties before 2004 so what was stopping them?

My guess is there are a lot of people out there who say they would never do it but that’s very tough to say when you are not in their situation and I don’t blame any of them for using steroids.

“Cheating” has been going around sports forever.  Whether it’s using steroids, doctoring a ball, betting on games, corking bats, or tailoring the playing field to your advantage; bending the rules has always been part of the game and always will.

I sternly believe that there were many more players using than the 104 players that tested positive back in 2003.  I also think the problem was not at all just limited to baseball and the problem could have been just as bad, if not worse in football or other sports where strength is even more important.

It was once thought that the Mitchell Report would finally give everyone closure on the steroid era but it seems to have only made it worse.  People need to just accept that it was very common, stop blacklisting every player ever associated with using steroids, and move on so the door can finally be shut on this story for good.

State of the Empire

The New York Yankees have certainly not had a quiet offseason by any means, dropping a near half billion dollars (441 million) in the winter months.  What has now been established is a declaration that last year’s failure to make the play-offs will not be repeated.  A huge splash was obviously not a surprise but no one knew it would be to quite this extent.  After being handcuffed for years by busts and overpaid-underperformers such as Carl Pavano and Jason Giambi, the near 90 million dollars freed up from expiring contracts was obviously going to be spent somewhere.  History may be repeating itself however.  The three major signings–
Yankees_logo.jpgBurnett, Sabathia, Teixeira– all look good now but what will we be saying in five years?  You would have to be a complete moron if you can’t admit the Yankees will be a strong team with all the talent they have, but if these deals don’t work out, the Bronx Bombers could be in trouble for years to come.

Starting Rotation Questions

In his eight years since becoming a major league regular back in 2001, A.J. Burnett has made 30 starts only twice, coincidently both during contract seasons.  Five-year contracts are a rarity for pitchers, especially one who has as many trips to the DL as he does major league seasons (10).  He is clearly a dominant pitcher as he led the AL in strikeouts with 231 last season but the real question will be can he stay healthy over the length of the contract. 

C.C. Sabathia got an even longer deal at seven years.  Though he only has two brief stints on the DL over his career, you have to wonder how much stress an arm that has thrown 513 innings the past two seasons can take.  He has a lot of guaranteed money coming for a long time and it will be scary to think what could happen if he has a major injury early on.

Chien-Ming Wang is another ace in himself as well and has proven himself to be a reliable pitcher but he too is coming off a major injury.  The foot injury was a freak thing that happened while running the bases, but when opening day rolls around he will be nearly ten months removed from throwing a pitch in a major league game.  In addition, Andy Pettitte will be 37 years old this year and Joba Chamberlain had arm issues last year as well.

A scary thought: If there is an injury, next in line is Phil Hughes, Alfredo Aceves and Ian Kennedy; all of whom are unproven.  We’ve seen what 20-plus starts over a season from the likes of Sidney Ponson and Darrell Rasner can do and it certainly won’t be pretty if that were to happen this season.

Backup (Starting) Catcher

 After Jorge Posada injured his right shoulder last season, he threw out only 3 of 35 runners before finally throwing in the towel and surrendering to surgery.  Though he is supposed to be ready for opening day, it will remain a question as to weather he can still be an adequate major league catcher at 36 years old.  Jose Molina is one of the elite defensive catchers in the game, throwing out more than 40% of runners last season, but that comes along with a .576 OPS.  With the Yankees budget, it may be worth it to explore all options here or it could get there could be problems at an essential position..

Centerfield

.641, .582: What are these two numbers? They are the OPS’s of Melky Cabrera and Brett Gardner.  Manny Ramirez had a 1.232 by himself last year and these two couldn’t do that combined.  Speaking of which there is no chance Manny will come home to New York with either team.  Derek Jeter’s been rumored to be moving out there but we all know that there’s more of a chance of us hearing kanYe West say “Barack Obama doesn’t care about black people” at the next hurricane benefit.  Mike Cameron was nearly swapped for Melky but it fell through.  I think a position battle is likely in spring training with Gardner winning the majority of the playing time due to the fact there’s nothing Melky can do that he can’t.  Plus he has a .389 career OBP in the minors and is equipped with an 80 speed on the 20-80 scouting scale.  A quick fix is all that is needed however with highly touted prospect Austin Jackson just one year away.

-This was my first blog post, comment me and let me know how I did.